29 September 2007

Flashback Friday: #2

flashback friday aged 12

I know it's Saturday, but I work on Fridays okay? And we mustn't blog at work oh no definitely we must not.

This is me being a 12 year old tourist in Perth, circa 1976. I was digging around recently in the old photo albums to show the firstborn some pictures of quokkas and other Westralian oddities delights in preparation for his orchestra tour to WA and found this. It's one of my favourite shots of me from my childhood and I quite clearly remember it being taken. We were at some colonial era gaol (the Roundhouse?) doing the touristy thing - that's an information leaflet in my hand - and as I was carefully negotiating the steps in my first-ever pair of Grown Up High Heels, Dad softly spoke my name so that I looked up and he snapped me mid step.

I like the spontaneity of the photograph and the sheer, honest, delighted smile on my face. Usually when faced with a camera I didn't know what to do, despite years of knitting pattern modelling jobs and magazine shoots and the odd television commercial. Without a professional director I was hopelessly awkward in front of cameras.

I remember a few weeks prior to that holiday my mother suddenly realised I had no wardrobe suitable for two whole weeks away. I wore a school uniform five days a week and owned probably one pair of jeans for weekend wear and a skirt or two. Mum and I took a special trip to Southland to purchase an A-line skirt pattern, fabrics and three long sleeved plain t-shirts including the blue one in this photo. She then proceeded to sew me three skirts, the blue one above which if I close my eyes I can remember was cool and crisp to the touch, a green patterned one which was my least favourite, and another that I can't recall. I know there were three though, and with my new sandals (with heels! my first!) bingo, I had A Wardrobe. Of course, this being the 1970s she also bought me a green and white striped long t-shirt dress. Full length. Horizontal stripes. I'm not showing photos of that one.

And it was hell to climb trees in.

As you can see I was a skinny little thing; flat chested and with chicken legs. And even then I couldn't do a thing with my hair. Not much has changed, although shortly after that holiday I took up sailing and spent years hanging by my toes over the side of a small dinghy (safety harnesses are for wimps) which built up my calf muscles considerably. My legs never looked quite so scrawny ever again.

That family holiday to Perth was an absolute cracker. We took the Transcontintental train across the desert from Melbourne to Perth; a journey that took 3 nights and 4 days. My brother and I spent the days roaming the train, rapidly acquiring the rolling gait of sailors and train travellers necessary to accommodate the train's rhythmic swaying motion, hanging out in the Club Car with its card tables, leather seats and a piano if I'm not rather romantically making that up, peering at the intimidatingly posh folk in First Class, pitying the poor plebs in Third Class who had to sit up in seats all the way, and being grateful that we in Second Class had tiny wee sleeper compartments with Lilliputian beds which the Carriage Butler folded out of the wall each evening and made up with crisp cotton sheets while you ate in the Dining Car (Second Sitting for Second Class Passengers).

The train track from Adelaide to Perth features the world's longest unbroken stretch of utterly dead straight train track. The track isn't fixed to the soft red desert sand, but just laid down and as a result, the train can only travel at a maximum speed of 60kph. That was in 1976; I wonder if it's still the case. The kangaroos (red, to match the desert and totally unlike our grey ones here) used to lope alongside the train in slow motion, racing us and winning, effortlessly.

The atmosphere of that train trip permeated the whole of our two weeks' holiday in Perth. It felt exotic, dreamlike and somehow magically removed from the everyday reality of our lives.

We travelled to Perth again four years later when I was sixteen, but journeyed by car that time. Unlike the train, the road hugs the coast and the landscape is not nearly as spectacular as that seen from the windows of the train. It was a trip with an entirely different flavour.

More Flashback Fridays here.


kt said...


It's a wonderful, sweet photo. You are someone I would have talked to in class when I was 12. We share glasses.

What a sweet photo. And thanks for the gaff tape joke! He, send me your addy and I'll dispatch a dishwasher tag:



Lazy cow said...

Not watching the pre-footy entertainment then ;-)

I like that photo and the story. You look so poised and confident and happy. Love the skirt, I want to be that sort of mum, that sews cool skirts for my daughter. So, do you still sail?

VictoriaE said...

That photo is absolutely cute. I liked reading about your train journey, have always wanted to go on one, a long one.

fifi said...

I really really loved this memory.

We are the same vintage: my skirt was lime green, but somehow looked quite nice with my navy t-shirt.

My equivalent photo was taken at Trial Bay gaol . I have never taken that train, but now I wish to very badly, and take the children while they are still children.
An antipodean Hogwarts Express.

Jodie said...

Super photo - you like you are busting with happiness

Kez said...

What a great memory, and a fantastic photo - thanks for sharing!

sooz said...

What a ripper of a snap! So very Now. You look quite the model of a modern miss (as my mum would say - and coming from Perth she'd know I guess).

And I challenge you on the post length claim after these last two.

telfair said...

What a great photo & story, really. You look like a long-legged, coltish model and I can't believe you're 12.

Kim said...

Hah - that discovery of not having a wardrobe because you lived in school uniforms for five days? I had that with the boys a few years back when it dawned on me they had two outfits - one for Saturday, one for Sunday - and that maybe it was time for some new duds.

You know, it's impressive you were 12 and having a lovely time with your olds. I knew many a 12 year old who spent family holidays surly and sullen. Hanging back, not partaking in anything and wishing they were anywhere but in the car/at the tourist attraction with these people they desperately hoped they weren't related to in any way shape or form.

Kim said...

Fifi - we did Trial Bay goal two years ago with the boys. It was a trial made worse by some guy obsessed with military history and asking eleventy gagillion questions about when people were interned there during the war. Snore.

tut-tut said...

What a wonderful remembrance! Clothes can pull out all kinds of strong memories, especially those made especially for us.

I can see why that's a favorite photo!

shannon said...

great sandals! I would wear such a pair today, if I had them.

and not just the sandals. It's a such a snappy photo.

Molly said...

Lovely to have memories like that!

Penni said...

Great skirt. I'm jealous of that skirt.

h&b said...

I don't think gams like that just 'disappear'

the girl with the trunks with cankles attached...


M said...

Going West must've been a big adventure in the 1970s. I'm a WA girl and I know going East was a HUGE thing. Flights were as expensive as going to Europe. Mum and Dad kept saying that "one day" we would drive across. I finally went to Melbourne for the first time when I was 19. I visited France before the rest of Australia.

Sheeps Clothing said...

That is such a great photo and I love the skirt!
I love the idea of a really long train journey, although living on the Frankston Line I have seen more than my share of long train trips.
Your skirt is great and I'd happily wear it now in 2007.

meggie said...

Great photo, & a great post! I loved reading about your train trip.

Isabelle said...

Lovely photo - great memories. It's interesting how photos somehow pin the memories down in the mind. What a pretty little thing you were (and doubtless still are).

Joke said...

An exceedingly flattering photo.

In all prudence, I'll withhold any additional comments on the considerable æsthetic merits of a young lady who is not my wife.*


* Not that anyone would have been my wife when I was 12, but you get the point of my circumspection.

Laura Jane said...

Love the photo, I recognized it instantly as the Roundhouse - it still looks pretty much the same, with happy looking 12 year olds scooting up and down steps in their first heeled sandals!

Love your blog and weekend stories

amy said...

Your outfit is easily seen on someone walking around here in Eugene. Great smile.

I remember when my mom took me out to buy a new pair of jeans. Being the last of 5 I wore a lot of hand-me-downs, so it was a very special thing to have my very own new pair of jeans. I thought that they were cool. They were bell bottoms with a buckle on the back.

Di said...

we did pretty much the reverse trip when I was about 13- going from Perth to the East Coast and Tazzie. We headed east in the car on the road, but when we were on our way back west, we kind of said "bugger it" at Adelaide and hopped on the train (with the car and dog.. I can't remember where the dog stayed..). I recall the Nullarbor stretch being surreal- just flat red dirt stretching to the horizon for such a long time.